[meteorite-list] Houston Workshop Marks Key Step in Planning Future Mars Missions

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2012 11:10:13 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201206261810.q5QIADmt016119_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

June 26, 2012

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov

RELEASE: 12-215


WASHINGTON -- A recent workshop conducted for NASA by the Lunar and
Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston, marked a key step in the
agency's effort to forge a new Mars strategy in the coming decades. A
report that summarizes the wide range of cutting-edge science,
technology and mission concepts discussed is available online.

Held in Houston June 12-14 and attended by scientists and engineers
worldwide, the meeting was held to seek ideas, concepts and
capabilities to address critical challenge areas in exploring the Red
Planet. Discussions provided information for reformulating NASA's
Mars Exploration Program (MEP) to be responsive to high-priority
science goals and the challenge of sending humans to Mars orbit in
the 2030s.

Participants identified a number of possible approaches to missions
that can be flown to Mars in the coming decade that would make
progress toward returning Martian samples -- a top priority of the
Planetary Science Decadal Survey -- and make significant advances in
scientific understanding of the planet, developing key technologies
and advancing knowledge necessary for human exploration on and around

NASA's Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG), tasked with developing
options for a reformulated MEP, will consider the workshop inputs in
addition to budgetary, programmatic, scientific and technical

"Scientists and engineers came together to present their most creative
ideas for exploring Mars," said John Grunsfeld, an astronaut,
astrophysicist and associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission
Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Great ideas come
from challenging the best and brightest and igniting their passion
and determination to succeed."

The MPPG reports to Grunsfeld, who chairs the agency-wide Mars
reformulation effort along with William Gerstenmaier, NASA's
associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission
Directorate, Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati and Chief Technologist
Mason Peck. The official draft MPPG report is expected to be
delivered to NASA for review at the end of the summer.

Concepts put forth tapped into significant benefits that could be
gained from technology investments by NASA's Science Mission
Directorate, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate,
and Office of the Chief Technologist. The participants also stressed
the importance of establishing international collaboration early in
the planning process and sustaining it throughout future missions.

"Future Mars exploration missions will require new concepts and
technologies," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space
Technology Program. "There were many innovative and transformational
concepts presented at the workshop. With continued investments in
cutting-edge technology, these will lead to increased capability,
reduced mission risk and lower mission costs."

Workshop attendance included almost 200 scientists, engineers and
graduate students from academia, NASA centers, federal laboratories,
industry, and international partner organizations. More than 1,600
people participated online as the workshop proceedings were streamed
live on the Internet.

"The LPI workshop provided a broad set of ideas for Mars exploration,
including synergies between science, human exploration and technology
development," Gerstenmaier said. "The number of workshop participants
demonstrates the broad interest in Mars exploration."

The workshop provided a forum for broad community input on near-term
mission concepts. Ideas for longer-term activities will be used to
inform program architecture planning beyond the early 2020s. Workshop
results represent individual perspectives from members of the
scientific and technical community.

"The scientific and technical community has given us quite a range of
ideas to consider in reformulating the Mars Exploration Program,"
said Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program at
the agency's headquarters. "Many concepts presented are highly
relevant to the challenges the MPPG must address."

NASA will land its most advanced rover, Curiosity, on the surface of
Mars in August. This mobile science laboratory will assess whether
the past or present environment on Mars could support life. In 2013,
NASA will launch the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution orbiter,
the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper

To view LPI's report, workshop presentation videos, and compilation of
the abstracts, visit:


For updates on NASA's Mars Program replanning process, visit:


For more information about NASA's Mars Exploration Program, visit:


Received on Tue 26 Jun 2012 02:10:13 PM PDT

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